Focus on the effort, not the outcome – by Dori Eversmann
Last week provided many opportunities for practicing mindfulness in a specific way. Mindfulness practice strengthens my mind’s ability to focus attention on something I choose. It is like working out in that I consistently show up to my gym classes but do not notice an immediate increase in strength. In recent years I can tell a big difference in the way I handle stress-that is a payoff for consistent, intentional time in my days to redirect my thoughts.
Mindfulness in Practice
Last week I put in effort by publishing my first coaching newsletter and recording my first training video in addition to other work tasks. When doing something new, my thoughts tend to spring forward to the future asking questions like: Will other people like it? How will I handle criticism? What will the response of others, require of me? This is my mind spinning in the future with guesses and my imagination. Yes, there is a place for looking forward to the future plan, but it works best in short visits versus obsessive thinking out into the unknown. When my thoughts get stuck in the future, my anxiety goes up. That is where mindfulness practice comes into play. In my practice I incorporate many skills at once (stillness, breathwork, mindfulness, meditation, prayer, contemplation) however I call it mindfulness practice for simplicity.
When my mind runs out into the future to try to figure out the potential reactions of others and my responses, the signal I noticed was a feeling of tightness and racing thoughts. When I become aware of those signals, I know that I am no longer feeling inner ease. I have many choices for how to recalibrate. This week, I chose to walk in the crisp air combining nature, fresh air and movement. Also, I asked myself a Go-To question. Carefully chosen Go-To questions have the ability to push the reset button on one’s thinking. My effective Go-To question last week was: Am I attached to the outcome in this?
Shifting to the Present
I was putting my focus on potential outcomes of my newsletter and training video. Since I’m unable to predict the future, this isn’t a supportive use of mental energy. Also, my guessing tends to be more fear-based rather than optimistic. Asking my Go-To question allowed me to stop the thoughts and return to the present. I shifted to focusing on my efforts toward my big vision and celebrating progress. I can control my mindset and effort today. I cannot control people’s responses. What I am putting out into the world is not going to please everyone anyway!
When I remain unattached to the outcome, I am free to handle the negative responses of some, and keep moving forward to support others in reaching for more in their lives. Mindfulness, intentionally bringing my thoughts into the present on that which I can control, is making all the difference to focus on effort and not outcome.